Sometime last year in this column, I predicted that the Jubilee Party would suffer the inevitable fate of NASA. This was after the handshake. That NASA went before Jubilee was a function of predisposition rather than luck.
Jubilee was held but by a membrane as strong as jelly whose wall was bound to give way at an opportune moment. The factors that accelerated the collapse of NASA may be different in form from those of Jubilee but the circumstances that have ignited and catalyzed the death of the two are similar and unavoidable.
NASA died earlier because its leaders lacked the state trappings, largesse and leadership charisma to maintain the forces together. Jubilee, on the other hand, had most of their leaders in government positions. They, therefore, had the capacity to absorb the shock of the handshake, albeit on a temporary basis. This shock absorption was not sustainable and could not outlast the will of the Jubilee Prince, Uhuru Kenyatta. The chickens have thus come home to roost and the ruling party can no longer hold at the centre. The disintegration, like NASA’s case, is assured and irreversible. The crumbling of the Jubilee house is on account of several factors.
The immediate reason for the collapse of Jubilee is based on its foundations.
It was never established as a party in strict sense of the concept. Parties the world over are formed as vehicles for interest aggregation and articulation. The ultimate aim is to influence public policy by either forming the government or legislation as opposition. The interests are aggregated around ideological policy frameworks that are espoused more succinctly in the party manifestoes.
Therefore, in mature democracies, citizens vote for parties based on their campaign platforms, not individual leaders.
As may already be seen, Jubilee’s manifesto was abandoned immediately after the election and the Big Four agenda crafted instead. This means the current development blue print cannot be the party campaign platform but remotely an extract. On the other hand, the earlier coalition in 2013 was not formed on the basis development ideology. It was established out of fear of the ICC arrests that threatened the duo of UhuRuto. As they faced charges of crimes against humanity, fate brought them together and they saw sense in mobilizing their respective tribes.
It helped matters that they belonged to the most populous ethnic communities of the country. The overriding desire was to get voted into office and use both state and diplomatic influence to ward off the threat of The Hague.
Once voted in, they turned the coalition into a party. The process of merging of the member parties was coercive, rushed and ignored the principles of organisational culture development. The party does not meet any of these thresholds as envisaged in the classical times and practiced in modern times. It thus lacks self-sustaining mechanisms and thus was always prone to atrophy.
The existing political environment is also not conducive to Jubilee. The events preceding 2017 elections put the country in a tense and violent mood. The main protagonists split the country into almost two equal parts. These events were supportive of an abrasive political organisation (Jubilee) to countercheck NASA. However, the declaration by Raila and Uhuru that they buried the hatchet and resolved to work together disoriented Jubilee forces.
The Building Bridges Initiative radically altered the political landscape in form and content. Jubilee mandarins’ clarion calls for annihilation of NASA were no longer tenable.
All over sudden, leaders wanted a united and peaceful nation. Across the divide, initiatives were being made to bring together hitherto political rivals. This created an environment that was not consistent with the succession agenda of the main players within Jubilee. The fact that Uhuru is serving his last term also removed the wind from the sails of Jubilee.
In his determination to bequeath Kenya a positive and lasting legacy, he has chosen to develop a broader based political structure than the Jubilee Party. He pays less attention to party officials and their parochial interests. Instead, he appears keener on bringing on board former opponents in his quest for unity. Since he has no burden of an election to contend with, he has exhibited freedom to associate and mingle with any willing partner. He alone wishes to determine the shape and content of his legacy. That left the Rift Valley bloc to be vanguard of Jubilee. However, the Rift Valley community is currently spilt between Deputy President William Ruto and Mzee Daniel Moi. Without the solid Central Kenya vote bloc, the spilt Rift Valley cannot sustain Jubilee’s bloated lifestyle.
The last factor Ruto’s ambition and interests. His main concern now is to Uhuru. This desire inherently requires that he fashions an outfit that is entirely within his control. It has been demonstrated that Jubilee as currently constituted is in the hands of people who are hostile to his ambition. It is TNA dominated and his URP has discovered belatedly that their role is servitude in the party hierarchy.
The presidential competition in Kenya has become high stakes game. Any candidate worth his salt will spare no efforts and leave nothing to chance. Out of necessity and need, Ruto will have to aid the death of Jubilee so that he has a safe excuse and an excellent opportunity to establish his election vehicle.
This will also help him move from the shadows and misfortunes of his boss, the retiring president Uhuru. Thus all factors being constant, sooner rather than later Jubilee will be no more. The current three prime movers of Kenya’s politics Raila, Uhuru and Ruto will have a clean slate to write their political futures and legacies.
Kanyadudi is a political and public policy analyst